Why say something that will be an obvious lie and outrage everyone?
Before answering the two questions, let’s first establish that the following contradictions dovetail very nicely in a politician’s antisemitic-Arab mind: (NB: Don’t use this piece to support racism against Arabs, which I abhor. On the one hand, we’re talking about valuable Arab culture in general (See here), and on the other about a terrorist turned dictator, not each Arab.)
1. The Holocaust never happened. Abbas claims that only 896,000 Jews were murdered, the rest died of natural causes, and the only ones who really perished were Gentiles, 50M of them.
2. The Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian People are [worth] 50 holocausts.
3. The Holocaust was unique and terrible. (Declaration in English.)
Each of these ideas can be defended:
Ad 1. Abbas’ dissertation. Consistent with time-tested, false Jew-hatred.
Ad 2. The Jews get all the sympathy, especially in Germany, while they deserve sympathy 50 times more. This is a sentiment that doesn’t need to correspond with objective facts. (Fact: Even if ‘only’ 896,000 Jews were murdered, times 50 is 45M Palestinians—where are their remains?)
Another way to defend this vile pronouncement is to say that the victims of the Holocaust are dead, but the Palestinians are now suffering their (self-inflicted) suffering, and that should count 50 times more.
Ad 3. This is a polite gesture to those who need it. He doesn’t need to believe or feel this to say it. He’s also not seen or heard saying this.
Abbas’ outrageous remark was a reaction to asking him to apologize for the terrorist massacre, 50 years ago, in Munich. In Arab culture, such a question stands for a highly impolite reception, bordering on hostile. What counts most is perception, and especially honor and respect, not facts.
Why He Said It
But why did he step on the Holocaust to make their suffering look worse, surely costing him a lot of credibility and support around the world?
A. For many decades, his foreign policy has been to be terrorists and murder Jews. Yet, they lack no international support from the US, to the UN, to Marxists, to fascists. When Putin invaded Ukraine, the Palestinian Authority openly supported him. It has cost them nothing. Nothing to worry about. Just like Trump saying if he’d murder for all to see, he’d lose no support. If push comes to shove (but it won’t), Abbas can always say he stressed the Holocaust’s importance and uniqueness (afterward).
B. Palestinian elections are coming up. His terrorist fractions are not doing well in the polls. But, the third point ‘he made’ (actually, a speechwriter for him declared this—he was never recorded saying this), acknowledging the Holocaust, won’t register with the public. But the second point is making him more popular. Especially because he defied the whole [decent] world. What a strong leader! Hatred against Jews has always been a great unifier for everyone (but the Jews—always spoiling unity, how selfish of them).
Abbas has always been an evil but superb strategist. He did nothing against terrorism (while orchestrating it, like Arafat) ‘because he’s a weak leader.’ The more and louder the world attacks him, the greater his election win. Reports of his political demise are greatly exaggerated.
He’s a master at turning defeat (the more, the merrier) into victories.
Internationally, many support Abbas ‘because there is no alternative.’ That’s not a good reason. You don’t support Hitler because there is no alternative. But, better, there are alternatives—see here.